A senior official said the Chinese government is considering setting up medical insurance plans specially designed for college students, who now have the only choice of more expensive commercial insurance plans if not being insured at all.
"We're studying the possibility of designing special insurance plans for college students," said Hu Xiaoyi, vice minister of Labour and Social Security, in a recent interview with www.gov.cn, an official web portal of the Chinese government.
There is no nationwide medical insurance system for college students, whose medical benefits vary from different colleges. Because most of the colleges are public schools, the government usually pays 60 to 80 percent of total expenses of college students, which makes a heavy financial burden for the government.
"College students are still not included in the national medical insurance web," Hu said.
One dean of the graduate school of Beijing Institute of Technology said many of his graduate students are resorting to commercial medical insurance plans for better coverage.
One dean at Beijing Forestry University said he has to pay, with money from his research fund, for incidental insurance plans for his doctoral candidates while they were doing field work.
"The college student medical insurance issue is quite complicated," said Hu, who did not tell any detail on possible solutions.
Hu also discussed medical insurance for the urban unemployed. He said those unemployed would be visited by community workers fore registering in the government-funded medical insurance system.
Since the 1950s, the Chinese government has offered medical insurance plans for employees. But the unemployed don't have a uniform mechanism for their medical insurance.
Hu said the central government, local governments and enterprises which lay off workers will be responsible for putting aside funds for medical care and medical insurance for the unemployed workers.
(Xinhua News Agency August 25, 2007)